Irvine : Municipal Employees Sign Up, Await Vote on Representation

Irvine municipal employees may soon be able to vote on whether to organize a union. Petition cards signed by 30% of the approximately 300 eligible workers are being validated by the city personnel office, said Paul Brady, assistant city manager.

If the signatures are confirmed, he said, an organizing ballot will be scheduled, perhaps as early as late April, Brady said. He added that support of 51% of the eligible employees would be needed to form a union.

The proposed Irvine City Employees Assn. would represent all city employees except the police and management. (Irvine's police force has been unionized for the last five years.)

David Suter, community-services supervisor for the city and president of the organizational group, said city employees like working in Irvine, but believe a union would help them win better compensation and advancement opportunities.

Irvine is the only city in Orange County whose employees are not represented by unions.

So far, said Suter, city management has been cooperative. "This has been a fairly pleasant process, to date," he said. "I think the city administrators have been expecting this."

Brady, however, said he believes compensation already is good. "Our position as management is that we have got a good relationship and compensation package . . . we will not stand in the way of any of our employees taking steps to organize, but we think it's unnecessary."

Suter said he doesn't believe a pro-union vote is a sure thing. Until the balloting, he said, the association's organizers have to work to "keep the employees informed."

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